Just wrapped up an amazing hike in the Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado. The USDA route is here. We backpacked it clockwise.

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View from Day 1 campsite: looking north along West Maroon Creek valley

There are two major players when it comes to Denver’s use-of-force (UoF) practices: the Denver Sheriff and the Denver Police Chief. Both are appointed by the Mayor, although it’s common for the Sheriff to be an elected position. In Denver, both have been at the center of efforts to make their respective departments’ policies more human and effective.

Sheriff’s Dept Responds to National Outcry and Local Scandals

The Sheriff’s Department, with jurisdiction over the City and County of Denver, employs approximately 800 employees, operating “two separate jails, security for the District and County court systems, state inmate transportation, extradition duties, fugitive and K-9 units, a community corrections and work release facility, and security at Denver Health & Medical Center.” …

Given the national epidemic of civic disengagement that got us here, we should all get more comfortable with the idea of working our asses off to keep this democracy of ours up and running. While the road ahead isn’t entirely clear, I know enough now to put my head down and get to work. Here’s my admittedly human, radically teachable, and proudly values-based plan to start putting in my hours.

Over two weeks have passed since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. In the time since, Trump’s cabinet picks and public statements have done little to settle concerns that his presidency poses a grave threat to our national security and values. In the absence of a clear call to action, I’ve wrestled with how to act and how to serve the communities and nation to which I’m so deeply indebted.

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The question, “What type of response do my values call for?” has proved helpful, forcing me to get clear on which matter most. Several stood out to me: civic capacity (our ability as citizens to effectively engage our communities), Constitutional integrity (doubling down on the inviolable tenants of our form of government), local scale (neighbors figuring out how to live and solve problems together), and service (dedicating my skills to advance others welfare). …

Here are my five biggest takeaways from Code for America’s 2016 summit.

#1: The unprecedented power of civic tech comes from its ability usher in an era of user-centered, agile, research-driven policy development.

By far the most exciting premise of Code for America: the idea that we can use tech as a trojan horse to access policy making processes and tweak them so they’re more responsive to public needs. CfA’s 2016 summit was the first I’d heard these three values — user-centered, agile, and research-driven — so clearly and consistently communicated.

CfA’s work with California’s Child Welfare Services (CWS) was a shining example of this new approach. CfA worked with the CWS to re-envision their procurement process to address decades-long inadequacies with the tech supports social workers in the field. They broke the system into smaller pieces and designed RFPs that emphasized end-users’ needs. The result: a fully-functioning system, delivered on time and on budget, addressing the needs of caseworkers and ultimately the children that depend on them. …

Beth Sebian

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